Digital Information Reading Strategies

Digital Information Reading Strategies

Anyone who has been to any of my presentations in the past couple of years knows that I’m passionate about teaching search skills. Not only search skills, but how search can and is truly changing our world. Search has the possibility to change our classrooms tomorrow because we can ask interesting questions that we never could ask before. If you are asking your students the same questions today that you asked before Google, it’s time to updated your questions. Things have changed….the world has changed and questions and information are the main reason why. I consider Dan Russell from Google the father of search today. This guy understands how our world is changing because we can ask questions we never could before. In this TEDx Talk Dan talks not only about how search is changing our world but more importantly the reading strategies we need to be teaching today to our students around how to read digital information. Dan, through research of his own, goes on to show that only 51% of educators know the digital information reading strategy of “Find”. That’s just one strategy! There are others he talks about in this video. If nothing else this video has fueled my passion even more on why every teacher needs to know and understand this new digital world of information. I strongly encourage you to watch and listen to this video…what in it speaks to you about our current state of “reading and search skills” as they are taught in our schools...

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Google Voice Search 2013

Google Voice Search 2013

I often show off a lot of these features when I’m presenting….blows teachers away on what you can do….and a great conversation on how this along changes learning…because it has to. This works on ANY device (the searching part not the “OK Google” part..that is for MotoX phones only and why I’m excited to get mine.) Android devices built in. Figure how how to launch voice search from your phone/tablet iOS devices download the Google Search App from the iTunes store and find the speaker button. Laptops got o Google.com in Chrome and click on the speaker in the search box. Then have some searching fun and just think how this changes your classroom....

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Does Your EQ Pass the Google Test?

Does Your EQ Pass the Google Test?

I have been thinking a lot about questions lately and Jim Laney’s recent post brought some of my thinking to the forefront. Essential Questions are the corner stone, in my opinion, to a good inquiry-based classroom. In thinking about this, I went back to one of my favorite books Understanding by Design (I lived by this book when I was in the classroom). I love this quote about Essential Questions from the book: The most vital discipline-bound questions open up thinking and possibilities for everyone — novices and experts alike.  They signal that inquiry and open-mindedness are central to expertise, that we must always be learners…  [Essential questions] are those that encourage, hint at, even demand transfer beyond the particular topic in which we first encounter them.  They should therefore recur over the years to promote conceptual connections and curriculum coherence. (108) Creating good Essential Questions is difficult but so rewarding when you get the right one. In the age of Google where knowlege is so quickly accessible, I think educators could use Google to see just how good their Essential Question is. Am I asking a question that Google can answer? If the answer is yes…then maybe the question doesn’t need to be asked or maybe it needs to be expanded to ask the students to do more than simply answer the question. The idea that Wiggins and McTighe propose above is one I used while teaching 6th grade social studies in Saudi Arabia. Working with my mentor (every teacher should have one) we sat down and came up with an Overarching Essential Question that would drive the whole year’s curriculum. The question was rather simple: What makes a civilization great? The curriculum had us studying, what it considered to be, all the great ancient civilizations, Greeks, Romans, Chinese, etc. As we went through the year, we kept coming back to this essential theme. There were essential questions in each unit that tied back to our overarching essential question. The final test for each unit was simple. Why do you think this civilzation is considered great? Sure I could have asked them about dates, leaders, ect. But that’s not what matters, even today after teaching the course, I couldn’t answer those simple memorization questions. Instead, I asked one question repeated time and time again as we studied these civilzations. We had other unit specific essential questions that lasted the length...

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Why K-12 schools are failing by not teaching SEARCH

Why K-12 schools are failing by not teaching SEARCH

This past week I had the opportunity to spend a day with some of the faculty at Western Washington University talking about reverse instruction…or at least my idea of what that means. To get started, we did a little reverse instruction of our own where I had them read the connectivism article by George Siemens before I arrived. Once I got there, we then set up the classroom for discussion with collaborative note taking and a back channel chat…both were new concepts to most present. However, as cool as it was to be talking with faculty at a University, I soon found myself apologizing for the K-12 system and its failure in providing students with the skills they need to be ready for college. As we were having a great discussion about the connectivism article and what it meant for universities and their classrooms, one faculty member spoke up with this: I just wish they could find information better. They can’t tell the junk from the good stuff. ….and that’s when I started apologizing for our K-12 system. I find it sad that university professors are not using technology in their classes. They are not trying new things like posing interesting questions and having students research those questions and come to class ready to have deep discussions about them because “they can’t tell the junk from the good stuff”. As soon as this statement was made, heads started nodding around the room and with my own recent rantings on this subject as well….I led them into that discussion. “I’m sorry the K-12 system has failed your students….they should know how to search by the time they get to college. But seeing that they don’t, until your students come prepared, you are going to have to pick up the slack.” I then spent 30 minutes teaching university faculty how to search….because guess what……they didn’t know how to either. Which is exactly what I’ve come across with K-12 teachers, which helps to explain the unpreparedness of our students. So who is teaching our teachers the skills they need to teach our students? Then today as I’m thinking about all of this I stumble across this new research done by the Pew Internet & American Life Project titled: How Teens Do Research In the Digital World Full disclosure: I haven’t read the whole paper yet but am reading it as I write...

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Power Searching Class From Google

Power Searching Class From Google

Google resently announce a free course they are offering in mid-July. I have signed up for it as I still believe search is the most important skill any of us can learn and teach our students. The course is taught by one of Google’s top search engineers and will be held in the format of a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). If you are looking for something to do in mid-July join me, and I have a feeling thousands of others, in learning some new tips and tricks about searching the web using Google.  Course Details Power Searching with Google is a free online, community-based course showcasing search techniques and how to use them to solve real, everyday problems. It features: Six 50-minute classes. Interactive activities to practice new skills. Opportunities to connect with others using Google Groups, Google+, and Hangouts on Air. Upon passing the post-course assessment, a printable Certificate of Completion will be emailed to...

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